To completely overhaul the H-1B and L-1 visa programs, a bipartisan group of influential senators introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate that they say will protect U.S. workers and take action against foreign outsourcing companies that operate these popular visa programs. to deprive qualified Americans of high-skilled jobs.
The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in specialized occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of workers each year from countries like India and China.
The H-1B visa program is the most sought-after work visa among foreign professionals, including Indians. The L-1 visa is a non-immigrant work visa in L-1 status. It is valid for a relatively short time.
The H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Acts will reduce fraud and abuse, provide protection for U.S. employees and visa holders and require greater transparency in the recruitment of foreign workers, the senators said.
Introduced by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal, Tommy Tuberville, Sherrod Brown, Bill Hagerty and Bernie Sanders.
The H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act require that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services prioritize the annual allocation of H-1B visas for the first time. The new system would ensure that the best and brightest STEM advanced degree students educated in the United States are given preference for an H-1B visa, as well as give priority to other US higher degree holders, those who get high wages and those with valuable skills.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The law expressly prohibits the substitution of U.S. employees by H-1B or L-1 visa holders and clarifies that the employment conditions of similar U.S. employees may not be adversely affected by the hiring of an H-1B employee, including H-1B- employees placed in the U.S. employee’s workplace by another employer, a press release said.
“Reforming the H-1B and L-1 visa programs is a critical part of mending America’s broken immigration system,” Durbin said. “For years, outsourcing companies have used legal loopholes to relocate qualified American workers, exploit foreign workers and facilitate the outsourcing of American jobs. Our legislation would mend these broken programs, protect workers and end these abuses,” he said. †
Congress created the H-1B and L-1 visa programs to supplement America’s highly skilled workforce, not replace it. Unfortunately, some companies are trying to exploit the programs by cutting American workers for cheaper labor. need programs aimed at putting American workers first,” Grassley said.
“If skilled foreign workers are needed to meet the demands of our job market, we also need to ensure that visa applicants who have honed their skills at U.S. colleges and universities are prioritized over importing more foreign workers. Our bill is taking steps to make sure the programs work for both Americans and skilled foreign workers,” he added.
According to the senators, the legislation will target outsourcing companies that import large numbers of H-1B and L-1 workers for temporary training purposes, only to send the workers back to their home countries to do the same work.
Specifically, the bill would prohibit companies with more than 50 employees, at least half of whom are H-1B or L-1 holders, from hiring additional H-1B employees. The bill gives the U.S. Department of Labor greater powers to review, investigate, and monitor employer compliance with program requirements, and to sanction fraudulent or abusive behavior.
It requires the production of comprehensive statistical data on the H-1B and L-1 programs, including wage data, employee education levels, location, and gender.
In addition, the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act includes several reforms to the L-1 visa program, including establishing a wage floor for L-1 employees; authority for the United States Department of Homeland Security to investigate, monitor, and enforce compliance with the L-1 program requirements; assurance that intra-company transfers are between legitimate affiliates of a company and that there are no “shell” facilities; and a change in the definition of “specialized knowledge” to ensure that L-1 visas are reserved only for truly important personnel, the press release said.
“This legislation will crack down on the manipulation of existing vulnerabilities to ensure that employers prioritize the U.S. worker before considering highly skilled foreign candidates. If we want to get our economy back on track, we need to do it right and that starts with first and foremost taking advantage of the talent we have here at home,” Senator Tuberville said.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced Monday that it has received a sufficient number of petitions needed to apply for the Congress-mandated 65,000 H-1B visa regular cap and the 20,000 H-1B visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap, for fiscal year (FY) 2022.
(This story was not edited by DailyExpertNews staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)